I attended the Social TV Summit on November 16th in New York City. The event was beautifully executed to host an executive conference focused on social media and it’s effect on viewing content on TV, online, on tablets and on mobile devices. Jack Myers and Andy Batkin moderated the panelists primarily throughout the day.
Facebook representatives Kay Madati and Andy Mitchell took the stage as keynote speakers in the morning. Madati clearly stated that the past age was dominated by search, but that today’s social rules and digital expectations will command social TV to respond in a new age of discovery. He went on to mention that quantified social insights will determine engagement and uncover what motivates users to influence their friends via sharing. Technology will drive programming and monetization opportunities because it will be able to execute content recognition. Winner of the idea pitch, TVplus companion application, demonstrates the intertextual prospects of synchronized recognition most distinctly during a program. Content recognition will empower the companion experience by making supplemental content contextually relevant in conjunction with the temporal metadata of a broadcast.
Olivier Delfosse from Fremantle Media emphasized that broadcasters need to work with technology companies to make second screen experiences more consistent. As connected TVs, smart phones and tablets begin to proliferate, viewers will expect the technology to be dependable and work in harmony with the program in a naturalized fashion. However, Delfosse noted that unexpected second screen experiences are also needed in order to keep the content fresh and initiate participation via the element of surprise. Broadcasters need to become fully committed to integrating these technical tools and producers need to begin to consider the second screen when writing content. Once these practices are adopted content creators will be in the best position to capitalize on interactive digital revenue.
Jason Klarman, President of Oxygen Media/NBC Universal, mentioned that the audience mostly wants to talk to each other about content and use companion devices to observe related activity and discover more in depth. Chloe Sladden, afternoon keynote speaker from Twitter, discussed the basic programming practice of using visual indicators, like a promoted hashtag as an on-air graphic, to alert the audience of the active digital community they can participate in while producers harness backchannel traffic. Sladden indicated that the highest peeks in digital dialogue occur during moments of drama, whereas, commercial breaks seem to be consistently leveled.
Overall, the event was very insightful and reinforced many of the principal theories and beliefs currently in circulation about the development of social TV. I would have liked to see more producers present to voice their concerns as well as expectations for this emerging distribution platform. There is a substantial divide between creative production and advancing technical platforms for distribution; the lack of content creators present at the conference highlighted this reality. Progress will be achieved once these two sectors initiate communication and sustain partnerships. Those are the types of discussions that need to occur in order for the best digital programming strategy to surface and succeed.